Football weekends are beginning to return to normality now; Sean Dyche moans about diving in the Premier League as he protests in a gravely tone, ‘the games gone’, Liverpool are awarded another soft penalty and Town put in a decent performance.
It’s been a long time since we have been able to celebrate a win with the calm reserve of fans who are used to victory and indeed expect it. Okay, I may be over-egging the pudding slightly by suggesting that we, as Town fans have come to expect victories routinely now.
But it is beginning to feel like that, certainly as we find ourselves top of the form table in the Championship over the last 6 games with 12 points gained from a possible 18. Danny and Nicky Cowley are keen to reiterate that there is still a long way to go in turning this team around, but what they have achieved thus far is nothing short of a miracle.
The fact that we still find ourselves just a solitary point above the relegation spots after amassing 12 points in 6 games is a testament to their hard work and the turnaround they have engineered.
How must Jan Siewert feel as he sits at home watching Final Score and refreshing his emails, hoping to see a job offer from Barnsley? The inexperienced German coach left us marooned at the bottom of the table with just 1 point from 6 league games.
As a football manager, Siewert must be graced with immeasurably more self-confidence than the likes of you and me. Hubris is, after all, a vital tenant of a football manager’s make-up.
Deep down the former Dortmund II man must have felt that the job at Huddersfield Town was a poisoned chalice. Inspirational man-management, engaging training ground routines and cutting-edge in-game instructions all seemed to fall on deaf ears for Siewert.
So it must be somewhat of a gut-punch for Siewert to see his former charges performing as a collective group in his absence. That’s not to say that this current crop of players is flourishing, rather they are fighting to overcome their own issues of self-doubt whilst simultaneously picking up points.
The decision-makers at Barnsley may well have been forced to think again after Saturday’s Yorkshire derby. Prior to the game, Siewert was the second favourite amongst the bookmakers to replace Daniel Stendel as first-team manager at Oakwell.
The former Town man undoubtedly framed his time in West Yorkshire as an uphill battle where the odds were always stacked against him in any potential job interview. That excuse may well have sufficed for the Barnsley hierarchy until they saw a much different Huddersfield side triumph over them at the weekend.
Under Siewert, Town’s players took to the field with fragile confidence, in-part destroyed by the pressure of mounting defeats, but also in large part due to their manager’s repeated criticisms in the press.
There is no such confidence deficit at Town now. The players take to the pitch with the clear backing of both Danny and Nicky Cowley. Individuals such as Adama Diakhaby and Lewis O’Brien try bold things on the grass, safe in the knowledge that their managers will not hang them out to dry if they make a mistake - as long as they work hard.
An opposition goal in the Siewert era was the trigger for mass hysteria in the Town ranks, with players arguing amongst one another and looking longingly to the bench for direction. Nevermind Plan D or C, there was never a hint of a Plan B under Jan Siewert.
Contrast that with Saturday when Town conceded in the closing stages of the game. Previously that would have sparked panic, but there was no hint of it at all. The players simply lifted their heads and switched instantaneously into game-management mode - running down the clock and carrying the ball from danger.
Finally, there is the matter of tactical nous. In Town’s opening game of the season, Jan Siewert stuck belligerently to a rather flat 4-3-3 despite repeated raids between the lines from Tom Lawrence who punished us spectacularly.
There wasn’t even a hint of adapting to counter the opposition, instead, there was a resolute ignorance of their strengths as Siewert preferred to focus on his own team’s positive attributes.
Saturday’s victory over Barnsley was all about flexibility and adaptation from the Cowley’s. Wiley striker Fraizer Campbell was recalled to the team to confuse and bewilder Barnsley’s inexperienced backline - a move which encouraged further gaps in the defence from the wide runs of Karlan Grant.
As Barnsley shifted formations and roles throughout the game so did we to nullify their threat. The Cowley’s are well aware that self-confidence and hubris alone will not win football matches.
They are proponents of in-game management and compartmentalisation, as made famous by their run to the FA Cup quarter-finals with Lincoln City.
This blog post is not a criticism of Jan Siewert - although it may feel like it - actually, it is a glowing endorsement of the work done by Danny and Nicky Cowley. The two men who have completely transformed a team of underachievers with old fashioned hard-work, tactical knowledge and inspiring management.
As Danny has mentioned on numerous occasions, we are not out of the woods just yet and will have to work hard to avoid a relegation scrap. However, it feels great to have people in charge of our team who clearly have the skillset and ability to match their undoubted self-confidence.
The tricky trip to Brentford is next on the horizon for Town, where we will perhaps be lucky to avoid defeat - the Bees recent upturn in form has only been bettered by our own over the last half-dozen games
In his post-match press conference on Saturday Danny Cowley referenced the challenge that Brentford will present when he discussed their ability to monopolise possession. Expect a catty game from Town, implemented by a management duo that can adapt, improvise and overcome.
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